The Ghostly Monthly Update for March 2017

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?

How about Scarlett Johansson in a skintight bodysuit? I’m sure plenty of people wouldn’t need something strange going on to want to make that call…


#30 Logan (2017)
#31 Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
#32 Demolition (2015)
#32a Deadpool: No Good Deed (2017)
#33 Long Way North (2015), aka Tout en haut du monde
#34 Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
#34a Hotel Chevalier (2007)
#35 The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
#36 Money Monster (2016)
#37 Room (2015)
#38 Warcraft (2016), aka Warcraft: The Beginning
#39 Kong: Skull Island (2017)
#40 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
#41 Ghostbusters (2016), aka Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
#42 Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
#43 The Monster Squad (1987)
#44 Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), aka Kôkaku Kidôtai Inosensu
#45 Big Game (2014)
#46 Young Frankenstein (1974)
#47 Black Dynamite (2009)
#48 Ghost in the Shell (2017)
#49 Jackie Brown (1997)
Long Way North

Kong: Skull Island

Black Dynamite

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  • I watched 20 new films this March, making it my largest month for nearly a year, since last April’s 21.
  • It’s far head of the March average (previously 12.3, now 13.1) and also passes the average of the last 12 months (previously 15, now 14.75).
  • In terms of my yearly goal, it’s behind where I was last year (two-thirds there at #67) but ahead of every other year (including 2015 — aka The Year of 200 Films — when March ended at #44).
  • This month’s Blindspot film: plugging one of the few gaps in my Tarantino viewing with Jackie Brown.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Room. Normally I’d offer a brief comment, but I already reviewed it in full here.
  • I watched three films starring Samuel L. Jackson this month. Even for a fella as prolific as he is, that’s still quite a number.



The 22nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
A tough contest this month between a couple of films I enjoyed an awful lot, but however much I was entertained by a giant ape beating up other giant monsters, the beautiful artistry of Long Way North just edges it today.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Not such a tricky choice here: easily the worst film I watched this month was the disappointing mess that was Warcraft.

Best Dialogue of the Month
You’d think any month with a Quentin Tarantino film in it would have this award sewn up, but not when in the presence of the genius that is Black Dynamite. I’d throw in a quote, but half of the magic is in the delivery.

Most Gratuitous Arse of the Month
Plenty of derrières on display this month, between Natalie Portman’s much-discussed bare behind in Hotel Chevalier, Scarlett Johansson’s extremely figure-hugging costumes in Ghost in the Shell, Bridget Fonda’s post-coital stroll in Jackie Brown, and Kong stomping around the place with nary a stitch on as well. But the fact someone bothered to draw the intimation of an arsehole on the dog in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence takes the biscuit.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Following a tip from Caz at Let’s Go to the Movies, I’ve been adding my reviews to IMDb of late. That paid dividends this month, with an extraordinary (for me) number of hits flowing towards Logan



This blog’s 10th birthday celebrations continued (and concluded) this month by counting down my 100 favourite movies I’ve seen for the first time in the past ten years. If you missed it, you can read all about it here:


Things are beginning to look up for my Rewatchathon, as I actually rewatched more than one film this month…

#3 Gattaca (1997)
#4 The Nice Guys (2016)
#5 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)
#6 Ghost in the Shell (1995)
#7 Hook (1991)

I think I was too young to properly appreciate Gattaca when I first saw it. Now, I think it’s a five-star sci-fi drama/thriller, and it would’ve contended for a place on my 100 Favourites if I’d got this rewatch in a couple of years ago.

Truth be told, I only watched the first 15 minutes of Power Rangers (then my NOW TV subscription ended and it cut me off), so I probably shouldn’t count it… but I would’ve found another way to finish it if those 15 minutes hadn’t been utterly terrible, so I say it still counts because I’d clearly seen enough.

This was the first time I’d watched Hook since childhood and, a few moments and images aside, I barely remembered it at all. It has things going for it (the sets are incredible and many of the special effects are fantastic), but it’s definitely the worst Spielberg movie I’ve seen (1941 still awaits…)


A big year for the MCU kicks off: I’ll be reviewing Iron Fist, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes to the big screen (over here, at least).

The Interruptive Monthly Update for February 2017

And the award for Most Recent Month goes to… January!

I’m sorry, no, there’s a mistake. February, you guys won Most Recent Month. This is not a joke. This is not a joke, I’m afraid they read the wrong thing. This is not a joke. February has won Most Recent Month. February, Most Recent Month.


#16 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
#17 It Follows (2014)
#18 Elstree 1976 (2015)
#19 Hell or High Water (2016)
#19a Mad Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome Edition (2015/2016)
#20 In a Valley of Violence (2016)
#21 Don’t Breathe (2016)
#22 Fandango (1985)
#23 Hail, Caesar! (2016)
#24 San Andreas (2015)
#25 Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (2015)
#26 Dances with Wolves: Special Edition (1990/1991)
#27 Police Academy (1984)
#28 The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
#29 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Fandango

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  • I watched 14 new films in February, plus one alternate version.
  • That’s now my 33rd consecutive month with ten or more films.
  • It easily passes the February average (11.22; now 11.5), but isn’t even close to the highest February (last year’s 24).
  • It also falls just short of the last 12 months’ average (15.83; now 15 exactly).
  • It’s also behind where I was this time last year (#44!), but it’s equal to this time in 2015 and ahead of every other year.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS viewing: the Coen brothers’ frothy ode to Hollywood (which may have deeper stuff going on that, frankly, I wish it didn’t try to bother with), Hail, Caesar!
  • I know some people like to schedule exactly which month they’ll watch each of their Blindspot films. Never quite understood why personally, and here’s a good argument for why not: suddenly finding myself with a weekend all to, er, myself, I was able to comfortably watch all four hours of Dances with Wolves.



The 21st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
One of this year’s Best Picture nominees and a winner from the past may be among my viewing this month, but, while I liked them both very much, there were other films I enjoyed even more. Of those, I think I’m going to pick a coming-of-age comedy-drama I’d never even heard of ’til the ghost of 82 recommended it to me last year, Fandango. It’s definitely worth seeking out.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
There were no outright stinkers this month — and considering I watched things like San Andreas, Police Academy, and Teenage Mutant Michael Bay Turtles 2, I’m surprised. I nearly gave this award to Don’t Breathe, because the hyper-praised horror-thriller isn’t quite deserving of the extreme love it attracted, but I’ll probably give it a higher star rating than those three I already mentioned. Instead I’ll plump for Police Academy, which isn’t bad but isn’t all that great either.

Best Cover Version of a Classic Song of the Month
After getting an oriental-tinged version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps in Kubo last month, this month it’s California Dreamin’ given a hyper-dramatic do-over by Sia for San Andreas.

Best Dog of the Month
Could it be the talented Abby from In a Valley of Violence? (Very much so.) Could it be the vicious guard dog from Don’t Breathe? (Not really.) Could it be Snoopy? (Eh…) No, the actual winner is the cute little scruffy dog that gets chased by zombies but runs away and totally survives (yes he does) from The Girl with All the Gifts.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
My stats went through the roof this month thanks to being linked to in an article on Cracked.com — just those hits alone would make February 2017 my fourth highest month ever. But it was an old review (Wizardhood) so has nothing to do with this award. Two posts vied neck and neck all month, but in the end It Follows was bested by my review of “Tim Burton’s X-Men”, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Special Award for Best Pun of the Month
This is a bit “patting myself on the back” (possibly undeservedly) but, honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of referring to In a Valley of Violence as “John Wick-y wicky wild wild West”.



You may have noticed there were fewer reviews this month than normal. That’s because (in case you missed it) I marked the blog’s 10th anniversary by posting ten top tens about the last ten years. Plus the customary statistics post, of course.


Despite its aim, my rewatchathon has thus far done very little to halt my focus on watching stuff I’ve never seen before — instead of one a week, I’m averaging one a month. Oops.

#2 21 Jump Street (2012)

I suppose you could also count Fury Road: Black & Chrome down here, but the decolourisation has such a profound effect on the feel of the film that I think it belongs in my main list, albeit as an unnumbered aside, like most alternate versions. And it can’t really be in both lists, can it?

It’s OK though, there are still ten months to go…


So, I said I was going to post 100 Favourites II on consecutive days for the rest of this week. I’ve decided that’s not going to work out, so instead I’ll post the four parts weekly, starting this Sunday.

Other than that, after spending ages celebrating the blog’s anniversary, regular service will be resumed.

All Your Film Are Belong To Blog: 1,337 Films in a Decade

Today is 100 Films in a Year’s 10th birthday.

Back when this started it was just a challenge to myself, inspired by “50 books in a year” efforts that other people were doing. I covered it on my DeviantArt blog because that’s where I’d seen the idea (look, it’s still there!) After that first year went rather well I decided to continue the challenge, but moved my coverage to a dedicated blog on Blogger (look, it’s still there!) That didn’t last long: less than two months later I moved on to the film blogging community at FilmJournal (look, it’s still there!) After several happy years, the FilmJournal community began to die off as the site fell into a kind of disrepair (if you follow that link you can see what a mess the formatting became), prompting a final move to WordPress in 2012 (look, I’m still here!)

When I started this whole shebang the world was a different place: Tony Blair was still Prime Minister and George W. Bush was still President. Apple had only just announced the iPhone; the iPad and the tablet revolution were still several years away. Facebook had only been open to everyone for five months. The hashtag hadn’t been invented yet. The final Harry Potter book hadn’t been published, most people hadn’t heard of Twilight, and Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t even exist. Britain’s Got Talent hadn’t aired, never mind spawned the ubiquitous Got Talent franchise. The format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD was still raging.

I suspect the “all your base are belong to us” meme had already had its day by then too, but I’m using it now nonetheless.

On a personal level, I was still an undergraduate, had never owned a dog (it was a couple of years before we’d meet Rory at a rescue — I wonder what he was up to then?), and still had all those dreams and ambitions of youth that end up going unrealised. But hey, at least I’ve still got my blog!

During the past decade said blog has certainly grown, from writing a couple of sentences about each film in updates posted every few weeks, to the almost-daily and often-far-too-long dedicated reviews I post nowadays, along with my monthly updates and TV reviews. The number of people reading my ramblings seems to have continually increased as well, which is rewarding in its way — I guess I’m doing something right; have something interesting to say.


Two months in, 2017 is already over halfway to 2013’s total.

Commensurately, the blog has taken up an increasing amount of my time: it feels like when I’m not watching films and TV I’m writing about them; especially last year, when adding my 100 Favourites series into the mix took up far more time than I’d anticipated. Sometimes it feels like I’m making a rod for my own back, doing all this, but at the end of the day it’s enjoyable — why else keep doing it? But after the monomaniacal focus I’ve given this thing for the past couple of years, I do need to find more time to broaden my activities.

Not just yet, though! For two reasons: starting on Thursday (after tomorrow’s February monthly update) I’ll be diving into 100 Favourites II! No, not another 52-week marathon project — it’ll all be over by Sunday. More on that then.

For now, the thing everyone loves (right?): statistics!

As the title of this post reveals, in the past decade I’ve watched 1,337 films expressly for this blog — which, as anyone familiar with internet-y slang will know, is code for “elite”, as in “very good”. Probably a bit old fashioned to use nowadays (or it should be), which is connected to why I revived the whole “all your base” thing. See, there’s method to my madness.

Those 1,337 films include all the alternate cuts and other films I reviewed. The actual total of brand-new films I’ve seen is 1,283 (which is a less entertaining number, hence why it’s not inspired the theme of this post). The total running time of that many movies was 136,154 minutes, and if you factor in everything else I’ve watched and reviewed it comes to 144,118 minutes — back to back, that’s 3 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, 1 hour, and 58 minutes of solid viewing. Phew!

Regular readers of my annual statistics posts may have noticed that the graph of each year’s running time always shows “no data” for 2007. That’s because when I first posted my 2007 reviews I didn’t include that information, so I couldn’t tally them up for my stats that year either. However, when I re-posted all those reviews to one of my new blogs I added the times… but still didn’t bother to total them up — it is a lot of films, after all. But this is a special occasion, so I’ve finally gone back over the lot and done it. So here, for the first time, is a complete running time graph:

If you’re curious, that makes the average running time of a film 106 minutes. I don’t think that really signifies anything, but there it is.

Down the years I’ve regularly noted my predilection for newer films — more recent decades always come out on top year-by-year, and my 100 Favourites showed a definite bias towards the past couple of decades (there are stats on that here). Naturally, that’s borne out when I look back at the last ten years in totality. The only possible element of ‘tension’ is: what will come out on top between the 2000s and the 2010s? On the one hand, about 70% of my blog’s life has been in the latter decade; on the other, that means there are more years (and therefore more films) for the former. Drama!

As it is, things go as you might expect: the 2010s come out on top with 458 films, which is 34.3% of the 1,337; and then of course the 2000s are second, with 388 (29%). The only other decade to make triple figures was the ’90s, its total of 114 representing a mere 8.5%. In order of size, the next decade is the ’80s with 91 (6.8%), followed by the ’40s with 79 (5.9%) — all those classic detective series add up. The countdown continues as follows: the ’60s with 57 (4.3%), the ’50s right behind with 56 (4.2%), the ’70s with 50 (3.7%), the ’30s with 21 (1.6%), the 1920s with 15 (1.1%), and finally the 1910s with 8 (0.6%). And the 1900s are actually represented too, by a single short.

As we’re talking about my tastes skewing newer, I thought I’d take a look at something I’ve never considered before. Every year I post a list of my top ten films selected from my personal viewing that year, meaning that films from any time period are eligible. Despite that, I’m aware I still have a tendency to declare newer stuff my #1 of the year. Just how new? Well, this graph shows the ages (in years) of my #1 picks at the time I picked them…

The average age of a #1 (ignoring the outlier) is just over 9 months old. Sticking out is, of course, Seven Samurai, which was 716 months old when it became 2013’s #1. The second oldest was United 93 at a piddling 18 months, while the youngest of all was Skyfall at just 2 months. So, yeah, pretty new.

Similar to running times, I’ve not kept track of all my stats for all ten years — I can’t list languages, or countries of production, or a couple of other things I cover at the end of each year nowadays. It would’ve been interesting, but there you go. There are a couple more things I can pick out, though.

Firstly, the formats I’ve watched all these movies on. This is an interesting one (well, it is to me) because these have regularly fluctuated down the years. Back in 2007 DVD was at the height of its dominance and was the clear frontrunner, but since then it’s slipped far back. Blu-ray has taken its place to an extent (maybe not in the wider population, but in the hearts of people like me), but in terms of my own viewing I know that watching films on TV topped the pile for a number of years. Recently, however, streaming has taken charge, with Now TV making Sky Movies Cinema more affordable and the increasing rise of Netflix, not to mention Amazon’s wannabe-competition. But what comes out best from the decade as a whole?

A little to my surprise, the winner is television, with 367 films (27.4%). I know it was once the #1 format for my viewing, but it’s been slipping for four years now. I guess it’s because it’s been a constant, whereas DVD has faded, streaming has only recently risen, and I’ve never watched as many of my Blu-rays as I should. That said, Blu-ray is second, gradually amassing 318 films (23.8%) over the past nine of the ten years. DVD has clung on in third, with 291 (21.8%). I guess that’s a slow accumulation — it’s one of only three formats to be represented in all ten years (along with television and another that we’ll come to in a bit). New champion streaming (it’s been #1 the past two years) ends up fourth with 243 (18.2%). Considering its numbers over the last couple of years, if I re-ran this all-time chart this time next year it’d likely be second, with the number one spot in its sights not long after. Unless I finally buck up my ideas and get better stuck in to my DVD and Blu-ray collection, anyway.

There’s a big drop to the rest of the figures, which are rounded out by the third and final format to crop up in all ten years, downloads, on 68 (5.1%); my poor record of trips to the cinema on 42 (3.14% — so it’s both the answer to life, the universe and everything and pi); good old VHS on 7 (0.5%); and a lonely little film watched in-flight, that 1 being just 0.07%. Sadly, it wasn’t a Bond film. Even more sadly, it was the risible Superhero Movie.

Finally, as always, a word on quality, or at least my perception thereof. In the past ten years I’ve handed out 223 5-star ratings. That’s 16.7% of the films I’ve watched, which also happens to be one-sixth. I guess that’d sound neater if it was one-fifth, but then I’d be an even more generous marker than I already am. This is definitely borne out by the 615 4-star ratings, which at 46% is not that far off half. (Well, I’d have to have given out 53½ more of them to make it actually half, but still.) Sitting between those two in quantity were the 350 3-stars, which at 26.2% is only a little over a quarter (certainly closer to a quarter than 46% was to half). That leaves the two ‘bad’ ratings to share just 11.1% of films between them — which is just over a tenth, of course. That splits as 130 2-star ratings (9.7%), leaving just 19 films (1.4%) in the highly exclusive 1-star club.

From all that, we can deduce that the average rating earnt by these 1,337 films is 3.6679, which as a percentage would be 73.358%.

And that, I’m afraid, is the end of that.

Tomorrow: putting my birthday celebrations aside for a moment, the February update.

On Wednesday… 100 Favourites II: Eclectic Boogaloo.

The Riddle of the Monthly Update for January 2017

How is it February already?!

OK, how about we stave off the inevitable just a little longer and take a look back at January…


#1 Green Room (2015)
#2 Anomalisa (2015)
#3 Ninja Scroll (1993), Jūbē Ninpūchō
#4 Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
#5 Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
#6 Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie (2016)
#7 Into the Wild (2007)
#8 Eye in the Sky (2015)
#9 Charlie Bartlett (2007)
#10 The Conversation (1974)
#11 iBoy (2017)
#12 Under the Shadow (2016)
#13 Sing Street (2016)
#14 London Has Fallen (2016)
#15 Another Earth (2011)
Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Kubo and the Two Strings

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  • 2017 gets underway with 15 new films. (I’ll talk about my Rewatchathon in a bit.)
  • That’s the 32nd consecutive month with ten or more films.
  • It’s just shy of the 2016 average (16.25), and makes the average for the last 12 months 15.83.
  • It does beat the January average of 11, though. However, it’s the lowest January since 2014; but it’s also the third largest January ever. Swings and roundabouts, eh?
  • This month’s Blindspot viewing: Francis Ford Coppola’s great ’70s paranoid surveillance thriller, The Conversation.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS viewing: getting the film I had least interest in out of the way, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. And I was right, it was a mess.



The 20th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Multiple films snagged full marks this month, and several I’d say are already hot favourites for my best-of-year list in 11 months’ time, which makes this a particularly tricky choice. On balance, however, I’m going to say charming Kiwi comedy is trumped (on this occasion) by the fantastical world conjured through the incredible artistry of Kubo and the Two Strings.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
For all its faults, London Has Fallen was pretty much what I expected it to be. Into the Wild, on the other hand, is misguided and overrated.

Best Original Song of the Month
I’m sure La La Land is great ‘n’ all, but the lack of Oscar recognition for Sing Street’s music is disappointing. My personal pick would be The Riddle of the Model, but there’s a lot to be said for Drive It Like You Stole It too — especially considering…

Best Dance Routine of the Month
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Littlefinger do a steering wheel-inspired dance move to Drive It Like You Stole It.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
As we know, statistics are The Best Thing Ever, which surely explains why my 2016: The Full List post was by far the most-read in January. Lists are almost as good, which surely explains why my Best & Worst of 2016 came second.



My goal to rewatch 52 movies this year got off to a weak start, as you don’t have to scroll very far to see.

#1 Enemy of the State (1998)

Yeah, that’s it. I watched it after The Conversation, because of the theory about Gene Hackman’s characters being the same guy. I can see where the idea came from, but it does not hold up.

Anyway, only rewatching one thing is OK — although my goal of 52 films was inspired by the principle of watching one per week, I never intended to stick to that slavishly; especially as I had Netflix this month, which led me to focus on newer stuff available there while I had it. I’ll make it up later.


It’s about time for an update to my director’s page header image, which features the 20 directors who have the most films covered on this blog. My 100 Favourites series created a bit of a shake-up in this area, with the main beneficiary being Steven Spielberg. I also watched a fair few of his films that I hadn’t got round to in 2016, so all told he was catapulted from six films at the end of 2015, to 17 at the end of 2016. But he’d already made it onto the header last year, so his newfound abundance doesn’t actually affect that.

As for what has changed, then, six directors drop out: Danny Boyle, Marc Forster, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Vincente Minnelli, and George A. Romero. In their place we have (in descending order of number of movies): Peter Jackson, Bryan Singer, John Carpenter, Tony Scott, Robert Zemeckis, and Michael Bay.

Wait… Michael Bay? Yeah, I can’t stand for that. No Bay; Hitchcock stays.


It’s the official 10th birthday of 100 Films at the end of February, for which I’m working on a whole host o’ posts.

The Best & Worst of 2016

I watched so many films in 2016 that I’d forgotten I saw some of them so recently. Going back over the list, there were films I watched as late as March that I was amazed weren’t things I’d seen a couple of years ago. I don’t know what this signifies, really, other than that watching almost 200 films in a year has warped my perspective.

Anyway, it’s now time to consider the quality of that viewing: which films were the worst? Which the best? And what did I miss?

So without further ado…



The Five Worst Films I Saw For the First Time in 2016

This year I saw some films so bad that Home on the Range hasn’t made my bottom five! In alphabetical order, they were…

300: Rise of an Empire300: Rise of an Empire
300 was hardly the height of cinematic class, but this makes it look like an accomplished work of auteurism (though, considering how Zack Snyder has continued down a similar aesthetic path, perhaps it always was). It’s just poorly made, with flat performances, cheap direction, aimless violence, and CGI that wouldn’t look great in a computer game.

Cool WorldCool World
Maybe if director Ralph Bakshi had got his way Cool World would be a masterpiece. Maybe not, too. Torn between conflicting interests (it’s a kid-friendly movie with adult content) and with distractingly poor technical aspects (the animation and live action often seem mismatched), it’s an unappealing mess.

HomeHome
DreamWorks’ animated movies never quite achieve the crossover acclaim that greets almost anything Pixar spit out, which is sometimes a shame… and sometimes it really isn’t, like with this irritating movie about an irritating alien and his irritating human friend. Pixar have never made anything this annoying. Not even Cars.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp AgainThe Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
“Is this even worse [than The Rocky Horror Glee Show]? Well, that’s a bit like someone forcing you to eat a dog shit and a cat shit before asking you which tasted nicer.” Most accurate review I’ve ever written.


The Twilight Saga: New MoonThe Twilight Saga: New Moon
New Moon contains the single funniest scene in any movie I’ve seen this year. Unfortunately, New Moon is not a comedy (not deliberately, anyway) and that scene is not a comedy interlude (not deliberately, anyway). For all the Twilight saga’s other sins, I will forever love it for giving us Face Punch. (Oh, but the rest of the film is pretty terrible.)



The Twenty Best Films I Saw For the First Time in 2016

Last year I commemorated the fact I’d doubled my titular target by also doubling the size of my top ten, joking about having never done a percentage increase before. But that got me thinking: what if I did? So from now on my “top 10” will be a “top 10%” — which this year means it’s a top 20 again.

My guiding principle when ranking this year’s picks became films that excited me — not in the adrenaline-pumping sense of having fantastic action sequences, but in the sense of films which left me feeling thrilled by their cinematic achievements. Not that I’m saying every film here is some wonder of Cinema, just that the notion guided some of my choices. It’s ended up with some very good, perhaps even better, films slipping down the chart. But never mind: as is usually the case with lists like this, it’s only a snapshot of my thinking right now.

Finally: as always, this list is created from the movies I watched for the first time this year, not just new releases. However, I did watch 38 films that had their UK release in 2016, and six of them are in my top twenty, so I’ve noted their ‘2016 rank’ too.

An intelligent, considered sci-fi movie that ponders artificial intelligence and its potential right to life, but also a gripping psychological thriller about three individuals locked in a bunker. And there’s Oscar Isaac’s dance scene too.

Sion Sono’s comic book epic mixes battle rap, comic grotesques, ultra violence, gratuitous nudity, more barmy notions than you can shake a stick at, and probably the kitchen sink too, into possibly the most batshit-crazy movie I’ve ever seen. Is it trash or art? It can be two things.

Wes Anderson described his typically-idiosyncratic young-love adventure as “an autobiography about something that didn’t happen”, which is possibly my favourite description of a film ever. A movie for the romantic adventurer in every childhood bookworm.

The best comedy or musical of 2015 is neither of those things, but it is one in a pleasing run of intelligent sci-fi movies Hollywood is offering these days. Trust Ridley Scott and Matt Damon to make a movie about using science to grow potatoes into a gripping adventure.

An underrated le Carré thriller starring Sean Connery as a book publisher coerced into helping MI6 and the CIA bring over a defector, alongside Michelle Pfeiffer as his Russian contact. Strong performances enliven a typically le Carré plot: grounded, plausible, unguessable, with a surprising conclusion.

2016 #6 A neo-noir crime thriller about racism featuring nudism and drug abuse… from Disney! It’s still a kid-friendly animated comedy, of course, but one that functions particularly well — arguably even better — for adult fans.

It looks like such a boilerplate indie movie that I kinda expected to hate this, but it caught me off guard with characters I related to and a story that I found affecting without being saccharine. Probably the most emotional a movie has made me feel this year.

Famed for Daniel Day-Lewis’ awards-scooping performance that is arguably one of the greatest of all time, there’s actually much more to Spielberg’s biopic. Playing like a gorgeously-shot period version of The West Wing, if you like men politicking in gaslit rooms, this is heaven.

Now we move into my Top Ten. Yeah, I know it’s #12, but I really thought these two would make it. I guess they’re kinda =10th, then; though that would be cheating… Anyway: I hadn’t even heard of this movie before this year, but the coincidence of a blog post and a Blu-ray release led me to purchase it and I was so glad I did. It’s Rear Windscreen meets Duel Down Under in a superb Ozploitation thriller.

2016 #5 Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling reveal rarely-seen comic talent as a pair of not-actually-that-nice guys who nonetheless have some morals in Shane Black’s spiritual sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This has just as convoluted a plot, and it matters just as little — its major asset is that it’s frequently hilarious.

2016 #4 Yes, really. And, just so we’re clear on what’s going on here, neither Civil War nor Doctor Strange are in my Top 9. Is BvS ‘better’ than anything Marvel Studios put out this year? Hm. But is it a more interesting movie? I thought so. Zack Snyder made a dark, morally ambiguous, imperfect movie that reflects the dark, morally ambiguous, imperfect days we live in. Perhaps it’s just too timely for its own good? People don’t seem to want a movie that questions our heroes and our relationship towards them in a world where real-life heroes feel in short supply. It’s clearly not the movie a lot of people think they need, but maybe it’s the one they deserve right now.

Of all the films on this list, Cold in July has arguably the most surprising plot: it takes sharp right-angle turns at several points, never breaking the style and genre it sets itself in, but instead shuttling the viewer off in entirely different directions than expected. By the time it reaches its action-packed climax, you have no idea quite what it’s going to do — and how better to end a neo-noir thriller than that?

2016 #3 This may be all the way down in 8th place, but in some respects it’s #1: I’m not sure I’ve had more pure fun watching a movie this year than I did during Deadpool (The Nice Guys would be closest). Okay, so it’s a little puerile really, but the humour comes thick and fast, and the regular fourth-wall breaking undercuts not just the film but the whole superhero genre. Having talked about the excitement of great Cinema at the start, this isn’t that, but it is a fantastically good time.

Steven Soderbergh transforms a pretty straightforward revenge story into an elliptical narrative that has you constantly questioning what you’re watching — is it flashback, flash-forward, a dream, a plan, a fantasy…? In the end it’s probably none of those things, but Soderbergh’s unusual editing techniques create an arthouse/mainstream mash-up that is a uniquely querying, mystifying, yet satisfying experience.

2016 #2 In an era when Hollywood considers “science-fiction” a byword for “action-adventure”, it’s all the more remarkable that an intelligent, adult drama like this was backed by a major studio. It’s partly a timely message about the need for mankind to understand each other across nations and work together, but it’s also a thoughtful meditation on the human condition — what it means to be human, what it costs us, and if it’s worth it. Director Denis Villeneuve paces events sublimely, imbuing the alien spacecraft with a wonder and fascination that you’d’ve thought lost in modern “anything is possible” cinema, but the film really belongs to Amy Adams and her layered, affectingly real performance.

Another thought-provoking science-fiction movie (for those not keeping count, it’s the fourth in this list), Predestination has been less heralded but deserves to be better known. Adapted from a short story by genre giant Robert A. Heinlein, it’s satisfying both as a tangled time travel mystery (with some great twists, whether you guess them or not) and as a consideration of human and historical issues about things like identity and feminism.

2016 #1 I’m as surprised as anyone by how much I liked The Revenant, having not been particularly enamoured of the previous Alejandro G. Iñárritu films I’d seen, but this gruelling survival-story Western oozes excellence from every frame. Leo’s pretty good, as are the rest of the cast, but Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography is the highlight: appropriately crisp depictions of wintery nature, an incredible use of natural light, and single-shot sequences that blow Birdman out of the water. By telling the story primarily with these visuals, Iñárritu has created a work of true cinema.

Like Lincoln, this is a beautifully-shot biopic about people stood around in rooms talking. The big gun it has in its corner, however, is an actual West Wing writer — its creator, no less — Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin’s screenplay is a precisely constructed marvel, brought to the screen by a quality cast capable of wrapping their tongues around his magnificent dialogue, and in Danny Boyle a director with the right visual sensibilities to make the material sing. What could have just been an Apple fanboy’s wet dream is instead a gripping character drama with a surprising corporate thriller vibe at times.

An orange to The Raid’s apple, this sequel is bigger and grander in every conceivable aspect. A sprawling crime epic, spanning many years, many locations, and many characters, it’s the antithesis of the tightly-focused first film — but all the better for it. Even with the more intricate plot, there’s still plenty of time for elaborate action sequences, crafted with even greater skill and inventiveness than the first movie. It’s surely one of the greatest action movies ever made.

In a top twenty filled with crime thrillers (see: #15, #11, #9, #7, #2), gorgeously-shot movies (see: #13, #6, #4, #3), and remarkable female leads (see: #20, #15, #6, #5), it’s only fitting that a film which does all of these so skilfully should top my list. Emily Blunt is the powerhouse FBI agent who finds herself out of her depth in a complex cross-agency investigation that leads her, and us, to some dark and morally questionable places. It’s all incredibly shot by the reliably amazing Roger Deakins. Between this and his other entry in my top ten, I think Denis Villeneuve has marked himself out as one of the most exciting directors working right now.


I always want to include this section of my post, but sometimes I’m not quite sure what to put in it — if it was just some more ranked films, I’d’ve included them above. But this year I have something concrete to begin with, because there were several films that I surprised myself by not including in my top twenty. They were films that I really liked — and, perhaps even more so, lots of other people really liked and include in their lists — but which, for some reason, when I was sorting through my options, fell by the wayside in favour of… well, in favour of the films that did make it in. I’m talking about films like Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (maybe that’s not on many other lists, but I really enjoyed it), The Iron Giant… and, of course, Rogue One. My already mixed feelings about the latest Star Wars movie were massaged by happening to read Andrew Ellard’s Tweetnotes and Film Crit Hulk’s dissection of the film while preparing this list, and while I don’t necessarily agree with everything they have to say, between them they managed to clarify and illuminate some problems I already had with the movie, and that kinda put me off its inclusion.

A shout out, too, for those less-widely-loved films that I really, really liked but couldn’t quite justify being in this top twenty — films like Crimson Peak, Dragon (Wu Xia), The Good Dinosaur, Grand Piano, Lost River, Pan, and Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights. And despite all those Shaw Brothers movies I watched, none ended up charting — but One-Armed Swordsman came close.

Finally, I can’t end this without mentioning the 26 films that earned 5-star ratings this year — especially as I haven’t actually published reviews for nine of them yet! So, 15 made it into the top twenty, but as they’re spread throughout the list I’ll name them again: Arrival, Cold in July, Deadpool, Ex Machina, The Limey, Lincoln, The Martian, The Nice Guys, Predestination, The Raid 2, The Revenant, Road Games, The Russia House, Sicario, and Steve Jobs. The other 11 were: 12 Years a Slave, Barry Lyndon, Hamlet, The Iron Giant, Macbeth, Napoleon, The Pianist, Spotlight, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Witness for the Prosecution, and Wuthering Heights. Additionally, short film The Present also got full marks.


During 2016 I watched 38 movies that were released in 2016, but of course that means there were plenty I missed. As usual, then, here’s an alphabetical list of 50 films that are listed as 2016 on IMDb (unless IMDb got it glaringly wrong) that I’ve not yet seen.

They’re chosen for a variety of reasons, from box office success to critical acclaim via simple notoriety — though I’ve decided to not include any more bloody Ice Age films on these lists, because they keep making them, they keep doing pretty well at the box office, and I keep not watching them.

The BFG
Ghostbusters
The Jungle Book
La La Land
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals
Finding Dory
The Handmaiden
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
The Neon Demon
Silence
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Allied
Assassin’s Creed
Ben-Hur
The BFG
Blair Witch
Bridget Jones’s Baby
Don’t Breathe
Eddie the Eagle
Everybody Wants Some!!
Finding Dory
Ghostbusters
The Girl on the Train
Gods of Egypt
Hail, Caesar!
The Handmaiden
Hell or High Water
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
I, Daniel Blake
Independence Day: Resurgence
Inferno
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
La La Land
The Legend of Tarzan
Live by Night
London Has Fallen
The Magnificent Seven
Manchester by the Sea
Me Before You
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Moana
A Monster Calls
Moonlight
The Neon Demon
Nocturnal Animals
Now You See Me 2
Passengers
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Sausage Party
The Secret Life of Pets
Silence
Sing
Sing Street
Sully: Miracle on the Hudson
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Warcraft: The Beginning
Your Name

…and many more.


And that’s 2016 over… apart from the 36 reviews I still have to post, of course. I think that’s one of my worst ever. That’s what comes of not doing my advent calendar.

It’s also the end of 100 Films’ first decade, which I intend to make even more of a fuss about than I already have when the official birthday rolls around at the end of February. I’m thinking lists, and probably statistics. Any excuse for some statistics.

But, for now, all that remains is for me to thank you for reading and wish you all the best with your own film-watching endeavours. Let’s hope 2017 is a better one for us all.

2016: The Full List

2016 is set to go down as a very bad year: everybody died, nasty people won things, and it felt like there was a lot of disappointment at the movies too. Will 2017 be better? Probably not. I mean, people will still die, and we’ve got the fall-out of last year’s votes to endure for the next goodness-knows-how-many years.

…I hadn’t intended to be so doom and gloom. Sorry.

In the world of 100 Films, it was my 10th year (did I mention that already?) Part of that was my celebratory 100 Favourites series, which I covered pretty thoroughly in its own conclusion so won’t get into again here. As for the main point of this site, I watched 195 new-to-me films — not as many as last year, but then I expressly didn’t want to go that crazy again. I was thinking a little less than almost-the-same-again, though!

Anyway, it’s time to wrap all that up. Today, the usual array of factual analysis of my viewing (lists! statistics! yay statistics!), then later in the week (whenever I’ve finished writing it) will be my top ten & all that.

But first of all: as this post is a long scroll past a lot of words and pictures if you don’t like reading a long list of films (I mean, you can read it all if you like — that’s why it’s here), some handy links so you can jump straight to the good bit.



Below is a graphical representation of my 2016 viewing, month by month. Each image links to the relevant monthly update, which contains the numbered list of everything I watched this year — plus other thrills, like my monthly Arbie awards.













Alternate Cuts
Shorts
10 Cloverfield Lane

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Barry Lyndon

Beverly Hills Cop II

Brooklyn

Captain America: Civil War

Dallas Buyers Club

Deep Blue Sea

Electric Boogaloo

Ex Machina

The Good Dinosaur

The Hateful Eight

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

The Last Temptation of Christ

The Magnificent Seven

The Man from UNCLE

Napoleon

Our Kind of Traitor

Pride

Return of the One-Armed Swordsman

Road Games

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Star Trek Beyond

The Survivalist

Ted 2

The Visit

White God

Independence Day

The Present

.

In the end, I watched 195 new feature films in 2016. (They’re all included in the following stats, even if there’s no review yet.) That’s not quite as high as last year’s 200, but is otherwise far ahead of every other year — it’s more than double my worst year.

I also watched three extended or altered cuts of films I’d seen before, one of which (Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition) was different enough to count on the main list. For the first time since 2010 I didn’t review any films & cuts I’d seen before — other than the 100 in my Favourites series, of course.

And if you did happen to be wondering what that might look like with my 100 Favourites included… well…

Finally, I watched seven short films this year — though four of those are counted in the main list as The Quay Brothers in 35mm. For the purposes of these statistics, that will be counted as one feature rather than four shorts. As usual, none of the other shorts are counted in the following statistics (except the one stat that mentions them).

The total running time of new features was 362 hours and 58 minutes, which — as will become a running theme if I keep mentioning it — is a little way behind 2015 but far ahead of every other year. Throw in those handful of alternate cuts and shorts and the total running time of all films was 367 hours and 57 minutes.

For the second year in a row my most prolific viewing format was streaming. In fact it saw an increase on last year, accounting for 113 films, 57.4% of my viewing. For most people the reason for that would be Netflix, but I only subscribe to that sometimes — there’s also Now TV, Amazon Prime, renting stuff, plus YouTube, Vimeo, and iPlayer too. Unfortunately I didn’t bother to keep a record of which service I used when and can’t be bothered to go back through 113 films and work it out, but maybe I’ll note it next year.

Second place once again belonged to Blu-ray, but with a reduced 41 films, which amounts to just 20.8%. Considering I keep buying the things (I know exactly how many I acquired in the last year and, compared to how many I watched, it’s embarrassing), I really ought to upend this equation. Maybe in 2017. (Yeah, right.)

It’s another repeat of last year in third place, where television accounts for 19 films, under 10% of my viewing. That’s also down from last year, continuing a slide that’s been going on for four years now. I keep recording stuff, but then they’re always there, just waiting, while stuff on streaming services has a habit of getting removed…

In a number that has held exactly the same, nine films were downloads, but this year that’s enough to boost it to fourth place. The number of DVDs I watched halved to just eight, a little over 4%. Considering I have literally hundreds of these unwatched, this is getting silly.

The final format was cinema, though the seven trips I made this year is my highest since 2008. I was going to go more over the summer but sometimes life gets in the way. Is there enough exciting stuff due in 2017 to boost this number next year? Time will tell.

As the final word on formats, I’ve once again tallied how many I watched in HD vs. SD. In the former camp we’ve got the vast majority of my streaming views (94.7% of them, to be precise), all the Blu-rays, most of the downloads, over half the TV viewings, and all the cinema visits. In ye olde standarde definitione there’s a handful of streaming and TV views, a single download, and those meagre DVD spins. The final tally says that 88.3% of my 2016 viewing was in glorious high definition. Hurrah!

It wasn’t just the technology that was modern: the most popular decade among my 2016 viewing was the 2010s with 121 films (61.4%). That’s marginally down from 2015, but it’s not like the gains were particularly felt elsewhere: distant second went to the 2000s with 18 (9.1%), exactly the same number of films as last year, while the ’90s came third with 15 (7.6%).

In fourth place was an uncommonly strong turnout for the ’70s with 14 films (7.1%), while the last decade in double figures was the ’80s with 12 (6.1%). As for the next few, they showed an element of name/tally synergy: the ’60s had six (3%), the ’50s had five (2.5%), and the ’40s had four (2%). Finishing it off, there was one each for the the ’20s and ’30s.

In another case of unsurprising business-as-usual, this year’s dominant language was English, featuring in 177 films. However, that works out as 89.8% of the films I watched — the first time that percentage has dipped below 90%. Nothing else comes even vaguely close, but nonetheless second place is a surprise: Russian, with 14 (7.1%). I watched two Russian films and one Russian co-production this year, so quite where the other 11 come from I don’t know. US/UK-produced spy movies, probably. Just behind that is Mandarin with 13 (6.6%), which is more explicable as I watched all those Shaw Brothers movies. Fifth place was split four ways, with eight films (4.1%) each for French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. In all, there were 24 languages this year (plus one “silent”), which is the exact same number as last year. More unusual ones included Ancient Egyptian, American Sign Language, Pawnee, and Xhosa.

It’s a similar story in countries of production: the USA remains dominate with 145 films, but the percentage — 73.6% — is marginally down from last year. In its usual second place, but also with its numbers slightly down, was the UK, with a hand in 47 films (23.9%). As always, these aren’t all films you’d identify as “American” or “British”, but most of the other countries I’ll mention are present thanks to co-productions as well, so it kinda balances out.

Among the rest, France was third with 18; joint fourth were Canada and Hong Kong on 12 each; and just behind them was Germany with 11. Counting down to round out the field were Australia (eight), China (seven), Japan (six), Ireland (five), Spain (four), and three each from Belgium, Italy, and Russia. A further five countries could claim two films, and 11 countries contributed to one apiece. Those with a definite claim to “country of origin” include Hungary, Indonesia, South Africa, and Taiwan.

A total of 157 directors plus 13 directing partnerships appear on 2016’s main list — and one film where I only credited an editor, too. Of those, 15 had multiple credits to their name. Easily the most prolific director on my blog this year was Steven Spielberg: his five main list films join his six entries in my 100 Favourites to almost triple the number of his films I’ve covered in this blog’s lifetime. Denis Villeneuve was second with four films, while Shaw Bros regular Chang Cheh had three plus a fourth with a co-director. There were three features from John Carpenter, Liu Chia-liang, and Zack Snyder (thanks to counting BvS twice), while Wes Anderson has two features plus one short. With two features there was Alexander Payne, Ben Wheatley, Bryan Singer, Guy Ritchie, Kenneth Branagh, Paul Feig, Ridley Scott, and the Spierig Brothers. Finally, David Ayer has one main list film and one alternate cut… of the same film. Unlike studio stablemate Snyder, he didn’t make enough changes to get on the main list twice.

Last year I specifically counted the number of female directors. The number wasn’t pretty… and this year it’s even worse: there were just two female directors in this year’s viewing, plus one who’s half of a partnership and another who’s a third of one. That’s 1.66%, which looks like this:

If that was a graph of the population, we’d be bloody extinct. I could blame myself, or I could blame the state of the industry. Maybe it’s a bit of both.

On a cheerier note, as of New Year’s Day 2017, 19 films from the main list appear on the IMDb Top 250 — more than last year, or the year before! Their positions ranges from 16th (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) to 239th (Barry Lyndon). However, I still have 76 left to see, which is only seven less than last year. How’d that happen? I guess new stuff came on and barged out stuff I’d seen. Shame.

At the end of my annual “top ten” post I always include a list of 50 notable films I missed from that year’s releases, and continue to track my progress at watching those ‘misses’. In 2016, I’ve seen at least one more movie from every year’s list. To rattle through them (including in brackets the overall total I’ve now seen), this year I watched: one from 2007 (33); one from 2008 (20); three from 2009 (26); two from 2010 (27); five from 2011 (32); two from 2012 (30); two from 2013 (31); and 16 from 2014 (36).

Finally, in the first year of 2015’s 50, I watched 28 of them. That’s the best ‘first year’ ever, and the first time I’ve seen over 50% of the 50 in a first year. It’s also more in one year than I’ve managed in the six since 2010, seven since 2009, and eight since 2008. Tsk.

In total, I’ve now seen 263 out of 450 of those ‘missed’ movies. That’s 58.4% of them, a jump up from last year’s 50.75%, and even more from two years ago’s 43.7%. (As usual, this year’s new 50 will be listed in my next post.)

To finish off 2016’s statistics, then, it’s the climax of every review: the scores.

At the top end of the spectrum, this year I awarded 26 five-star ratings. That’s a lot less than last year’s 40 — indeed, it’s 13.2% of my viewing this year, while my all-time five-star percentage is 16.7%. On the bright side, I gave 101 four-star ratings, the most ever. Representing 51.27% of this year’s viewing, it’s well above the lifetime percentage of 45.99%.

A distant second were the 53 three-star films. That’s also their highest total ever, though at 26.9% it’s only just higher than the all-time figure of 26.18%. There were also 14 two-star films, which is pretty normal, and an above-average total of three one-star films — though, at 1.5% of my viewing, I’m not going to be losing any sleep over that.

Last but not least, the average score — the single figure that (arguably) asserts 2016’s quality compared to other years. The short version is 3.7, the same as last year (and 2007 and 2009 before that). Looking with greater precision, it’s actually a bit down: to three decimal places, 2016’s score is 3.675. That places it 4th all time (behind 2011, 2014, and 2015, and just a smidge ahead of 2009).

And that’s 2016’s statistics!

I know, it’s sad they’re over. It’s okay, you can read them again — I know I will.


Next time: the best (and worst) films I saw for the first time in 2016.

The Decadal Monthly Update for December 2016

Happy New Year, dear readers!

And with that, 100 Films’ 10th year is at an end.

Well, apart from the fact that I’ll spend the next few days going on about it, and the blog’s actual 10th birthday is in February, so I’ll go on about it some more then. But in terms of films that will be watched within that first decade, here are the last dozen…


#185a Come Together (2016)
#186 Wizardhood (2016)
#187 Rogue One (2016), aka Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
#188 Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)
#189 Partners in Crime… (2012), aka Associés contre le crime… “L’œuf d’Ambroise”
#190 Dragon (2011), aka Wu xia
#191 Our Kind of Traitor (2016)
#192 Mr. Nobody (2009)
#193 Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), aka Hauru no ugoku shiro
#194 The Tale of Zatoichi Continues (1962), aka Zoku Zatôichi monogatari
#195 The Last Dragonslayer (2016)
#195a Suicide Squad: Extended Cut (2016)
Rogue One

Dragon

.


  • My final total for 2016: 195 new films. Slightly less than last year; way above every other year. (More on this kind of thing in the next few days.)
  • I watched exactly ten new feature films this month, making it the 31st consecutive month to reach double figures.
  • This year’s WDYMYHS / Blindspot list is rounded out by Miyazaki fantasy Howl’s Moving Castle. I’ve not even started thinking about 2017’s list yet…
  • The Jim Carrey Christmas Carol was my only Christmassy film all season — and I thought it was crap. Poor Christmas. (I guess Scrooge and It’s a Wonderful Life are going to sit on my TiVo for the next 11 months…)
  • I finally watched the second Zatoichi movie, only 38 months after the first. Hopefully this will be the start of more regular viewing, because even if I watched the rest of them at a rate of one per month it would take until the start of 2019 to finish.
  • I ended the year with the extended cut of Suicide Squad. I watched the theatrical in November but didn’t get round to reviewing it, so I guess I’ll do them both at once now.



The 19th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
It had its problems, and whether it’s better or less-good than The Force Awakens is still something that’s percolating in my mind, but the film I most enjoyed this month was definitely Rogue One.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
While the French take on Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence in Partners in Crime was certainly (shall we say) off-book, I didn’t think it was a crushing disaster like Disney’s A Christmas Carol. What most amazes me about that is the number of positive reviews online, especially those that praise the animation — I thought it looked cheap and terrible. Maybe it’s just aged badly.

Most Unrealistic CGI Human Beings of the Month
Say what you will about Tarkin, it’s bloody good CGI. On the other hand, thank goodness Robert Zemeckis has returned to live-action films — after The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol, I’ve had enough of his not-real-enough-to-be-in-the-uncanny-valley motion-captured ‘humans’.

Best Donnie Yen of the Month
Between being one with the Force in Rogue One and chopping off an arm to fight the original one-armed swordsman in Dragon, Donnie Yen is the best Donnie Yen in this and every other month.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
It looked like a certain Star Wars story was going to easily bag this award, until a pair of unexpected last-minute sweeps knocked it down to third. First its place was taken by a martial arts bear’s threequel, but that too was leapfrogged — within just a single day as well — by my review of Sky1’s The Last Dragonslayer.



The final selection from my favourites includes superheroes, comic book adaptations, and superhero comic book adaptations. Plus cartoons come to life and a moody literature adaptation.


Oh, forget January — I’ve got a bunch of 2016 stuff to post yet! There’s the full list of my 2016 viewing, my bottom five, my top ten (or so), the major new films I missed, the 36 reviews I haven’t gotten round to… and, of course, the highlight of the entire year: the statistics.

Good times.

The Up-to-Date Monthly Update for November 2016

The penultimate monthly update for 2016 has a higher-than-usual compliment of films from 2016. How up-to-date of me.


#172 Bridesmaids (2011)
#173 Love & Friendship (2016)
#174 Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016)
#175 The Pianist (2002)
#176 Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
#177 Swiss Army Man (2016)
#178 Suicide Squad (2016)
#179 Arrival (2016)
#180 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
#181 The Deer Hunter (1978)
#182 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
#183 Star Trek Beyond (2016)
#184 Napoleon (1927), aka Napoléon vu par Abel Gance
#185 Jason Bourne (2016)
Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

.


  • I watched 14 new films again this month (same as last). That makes this my 30th consecutive month with 10 or more new films.
  • As I mentioned, there were quite a few films from 2016. The total is ten, to be precise, or 71.4% of this month’s viewing. I’ll rate them when I review them, but scroll down to the Arbies for more about which I liked and disliked.
  • I spent three nights watching the 5½ hours of Abel Gance’s Napoleon, which made its hotly-anticipated Blu-ray debut this month. Still only counts as one film, though.
  • Making up for last month, I found time for two WDYMYHS films. Both are excoriating depictions of wartime: Roman Polanski’s story of life in the Warsaw ghettoes during World War 2, The Pianist; and Michael Cimino’s controversial take on the Vietnam war and its effect on (American) combatants, The Deer Hunter.



The 18th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Quite a few enjoyable films this month, particularly among all those 2016 ones, but the one of the highest quality was definitely Denis Villeneuve’s venture into science-fiction drama, Arrival.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Conversely, the weakest film this month also comes from 2016. I wanted to find the critics were wrong and side with the audiences who boosted it into the top 75 highest grossing films of all time, but no, Suicide Squad is a disappointing mess.

Longest Film of the Year (So Far)
I watched the ’59 Ben-Hur back in September, a film whose notoriously epic running time — 222 minutes, or 3¾ hours — would, most years, stand as unlikely to be surpassed. Thanks to the BFI, however, it has: Abel Gance’s silent epic Napoleon is a full 111 minutes longer at 333 minutes, aka 5½ hours.

Most Consistent Use of a Song
They’re back again: after 14 years and five films, Jason Bourne still ends with Moby’s Extreme Ways, just like every other film in the series. Never may it end.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
I confess to being slightly surprised by this month’s most-seen post. Besting several new releases (Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders was 2nd) and all-time favourites (Star Wars was 3rd), this month’s victor was my review of Denis Villeneuve’s arty psychological thriller Enemy.



Films that broke new ground rub shoulders with ones that settled into comfortable grooves, with everything from children’s movies about toys to adult movies about puppets.


As regular readers may have ascertained from the occasional reference I’ve made, I’m going to be away for a chunk of December. It’s not actually some big secret, it just wasn’t especially pertinent ’til now. We’re off on a family holiday to Hogwarts… in sunny Orlando, Florida. And all the other stuff, like Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center, all that jazz; but it was inspired by, as grown-up adult human beings, wanting to go to the Harry Potter theme parks. Something something for all ages, something something young at heart, etc.

So as this is posted, I’m currently… sat at home in the UK, because we fly tomorrow. Anyway, that means this blog will be quieter than normal for a bit — and as I’m away for 72% of the time it would cover, no advent calendar this year. I know I’m severely damaging your enjoyment of the holiday season, but it can’t be helped. Sorry. I’d love to tell you that I nonetheless have a mass of reviews scheduled to post so it’ll be like I’m not even gone, but I don’t. However, my 100 Favourites will continue as advertised (next up: #95 on Sunday), and there will be a couple of other reviews scattered in between, too. I may check in on comments from time to time as well, what with the connectivity of our modern world — so don’t be a stranger, y’hear?

It’ll undoubtedly have an effect on how many films I watch, though — will December destroy the 30-month run of 10+ films?!

The Strange Monthly Update for October 2016

TV dominated my viewing this month, with whole seasons of Luke Cage, Red Dwarf, and Ripper Street released, plus sundry other shows, new and old — so many I’m not even going to list them. And I’m currently most of the way through Stranger Things too (more on that in next month’s TV round-up).

Despite that, I still found the time to watch a decent number of films — in fact, October isn’t even the lowest-totalling month this year.

And those films were…


#158 The Russia House (1990)
#159 The Quay Brothers in 35mm (2015)
—#159a In Absentia (2000)
—#159b Quay (2015)
—#159c The Comb (From the Museums of Sleep) (1990)
—#159d Street of Crocodiles (1986)
#160 A Knight’s Tale (2001)
#161 The Big Short (2015)
#162 Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (2016)
#163 Moneyball (2011)
#164 Raising Arizona (1987)
#165 The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (2016)
#166 The Transporter Refuelled (2015)
#167 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)
#168 Cover Girl (1944)
#169 Doctor Strange (2016)
#170 The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
#171 The Witch (2015), aka The VVitch: A New-England Folktale
The Russia House

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Doctor Strange

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  • I watched 14 new films this month, for the 29th consecutive month with 10+ films.
  • No WDYMYHS film this month, the first time I’ve faltered this year. Concerted effort at a double-bill in November, then.
  • 2016 slips behind 2015 for the first time this month: by the end of October last year I’d reached #172, whereas this year it’s only #171. Not a huge difference, but how much more will that gap widen over the next two months? Well, November 2015 was unexceptional, but I’m away for most of this December (more on that this time next month). Time will tell.
  • Two Le Carré adaptations this month, The Russia House and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Later in November, Our Kind of Traitor is coming to Amazon Prime Video; and of course we had The Night Manager earlier this year. I would say I’ll be Le Carré’d out, but his stuff is so darn good.
  • I can’t spend a whole month watching horror movies like some people do — if I spend a week watching one kind of thing I’ll usually get fed up of it. Nonetheless, I had a whole load of horror movies lined up for the last weekend or so of October… but then Stranger Things happened. Well, it happened in July, but I finally got round to it. Anyway, that’s why the extent of my horror viewing became New Moon and The VVitch.



The 17th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Quite a few films I liked this month, but only a couple that stand out as worthy of a “favourite” award. The biggest pleasant surprise was Cold War spy thriller The Russia House, an underrated Le Carré adaptation.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Oh, but this one’s hard! A couple of weaker films are spared this award by a pair of horrors: Fox’s Rocky Horror remake and the second Twilight movie, New Moon. Which was worse? Rocky Horror was insultingly poor, but it did have a couple of enjoyable parts, whereas New Moon was just dull.

Best Worst Fake Action Movie Title Ever
Face Punch! Whatever else it does or doesn’t offer, I will always be grateful to the Twilight saga for giving us the scene where they decide to go and see Face Punch.

The “Oh, Look Who It Is! This Must’ve Been Before He Was Famous” Award
goes to The Russia House, for featuring an abundance of recognisable British faces in smaller roles, from Martin Clunes as an aide who doesn’t have a single line of dialogue, to David “grandad from Outnumbered” Ryall as Sean Connery’s chum whose face we don’t even see properly because he’s filmed half from behind.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Whether or not people wanted to do the Time Warp again I don’t know, but it certainly seems they wanted to read about it: my review of Fox’s dire The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again isn’t just my most-viewed new post of October, it’s already my most-viewed new post of 2016.



More of the most popular movies of all time in this month’s selection, starring big damn actors, made by big damn directors, and featuring big damn heroes.


As my 10th year of 100 Films heads into the home straight, I’m not only thinking about what the final tally for 2016 will be, but also my total for the past decade of doing this blog. Exciting times.

The Slimline Monthly Update for September 2016

Keeping things to the point, this month.


#143 Ben-Hur (1959)
#144 Spotlight (2015)
#145 Midnight Special (2016)
#146 Rushmore (1998)
#147 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
#148 Tale of Tales (2015), aka Il racconto dei racconti
#149 Tokyo Tribe (2014)
#150 The Survivalist (2015)
#151 Magic in the Moonlight (2014)
#152 The Magnificent Seven (1960)
#153 Mr. Turner (2014)
#154 The Saint’s Return (1953), aka The Saint’s Girl Friday
#155 Westworld (1973)
#156 The Nice Guys (2016)
#157 Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Tokyo Tribe

The Nice Guys

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  • 15 new films this month, which is exactly the same as in August, and the 28th consecutive month with 10+ films.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film was right at the start, for a change. One of the definitive historical epics of classic Hollywood, it was the 1959 remake of Ben-Hur.



The 16th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
I watched a couple of Best Picture winners in September, and a couple more that were nominated for the prize, but by far the most entertaining movie I saw this month was also the newest: Shane Black’s latest buddy action/thriller/comedy, The Nice Guys.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
No really bad films this month, but a few middling ones. A couple of those I didn’t expect all that much from and so wasn’t greatly surprised, but, after a tonne of hype in certain circles, I was a bit let down by Midnight Special.

The Dick Van Dyke Award for Performing with a Cockney Accent
Someone in Witness for the Prosecution, but I shan’t tell you who because if you’ve not seen it it might spoil it.

Least-Likely Catchiest Musical Refrain of the Month
Tokyo Tribe, never ever die! Tokyo Tribe, never ever die!

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Although a raft of challengers came close to deposing it, an early lead was set and maintained for this award by my review of Ben-Hur (1959 variety, of course).



This month: pirates, hitmen, Jedi, archaeologists, and sweet transvestites star in some of the most popular films of all time.


There’s an awful lot of TV on the way — will my film viewing suffer? (Cliffhanger!)